So it's that time of year again. When December is gonna end soon, and we look back on what were are favorite game experiences, echoing amazing moments or disagreeing with someone's opinion. I'm gonna stick with the top 10 format, and list a few notables that were close, but anyone else feel free to extend past that. What are you the TAY viewer's favorite games of 2014?
To get this started, here are mine in order counting down:
10. South Park: The Stick of Truth
This game hits the back of the list only because in terms of gameplay it's not particularly deep or even that inventive, but what it does, it does well, and with more personality than most games this year. Comedy is something more games do badly than even do decently, while this game is fantastic at it. Mainly in how well it replicates the show, down to not just visuals, but more importantly timing. South Park has consistently been funny to me, and the jokes around video games, you get to take part in with this title. Also, the only game with good collectibles this year to me.
9. Wolfenstein: The New Order
One of my surprises this year, with the early showings being this linear scripted nonsense first level, which hides a better game afterward when it goes back to old school design choices, with some new school improvements. The gunplay is solid across the board with a heft that feels like an id game, recreated by Starbreeze, in an interesting alt-history world where the allies lost to the axis powers. More importantly, it's a game that lets you explore and shoot for long periods of time, than feeling the need for set-piece events every couple minutes like too many modern titles. Robo-giant dogs, dual machine guns, good German covers of historical music…what's not to love?
While this game has a reputation for being abandoned shortly after its launch, due to a lack of content, that didn't take away my love. Basically like Destiny, except with some actual innovation in the game mechanics, to go along with the gunplay being rock solid. The way you move around in this game, and the dynamic with Titans, changes how I play this shooter over any other, at a fundamental level. The later added co-op only rekindled my interest, and made me realize how solid a foundation they have for the next game. Still, the pure fun I've had playing this, especially at launch when people were just learning to play, can't be ignored. Titanfall is still a 'badass moment' simulator to me.
Technically a lot of people could play it last year, including me, but it officially came out in 2014. It is what I've wanted for a long time, a close enough to Magic the Gathering game, that had the interface and feedback of a video game. It even cuts out the jank through a refilling mana bar over annoying land RNG, has class-based hero powers, and a solid tutorial. It is a game easy to learn, but difficult to master through clever card abilities, and this year an enjoyable single-player boss-focused expansion. It is my favorite short-term game this year, each 15 minute match being a new experience.
6. Dragon Age: Inquisition
I'm still working my way through this game right now, but I've played enough to know I like it. While I lament the tactical camera not being as good as Origins for planning out combat, the real-time actiony portion is still fun…thankfully without the dumb design decisions of DA2. It is a game with large scope that succeeds often enough, with characters that grew on me, choices that weren't Mass Effect light/dark side color-coded nonsense, and a world open enough that makes exploration actually matter. It's not Baldur's Gate 2 level amazing for me, but it's the best thing they've made in years.
5. Super Time Force Ultra
2014 has been a great year for indies, many of which were hard to push off my top 10, but this one I can't. The game just takes a genre, fundamentally changes how you play it, and executes incredibly well. In most games when you die, that's it. In Super Time Force, death is a tool you use purposefully, rewinding time to come back as another character, except you fight alongside the ghost of your previous one. You just layer on more and more of your own playthroughs together. Single-player co-op is not just marketing, it is factual and wonderful.
4. Super Smash Bros. WiiU
Before it even came out, I knew this game would be in my top 10, and the only hard part was placing it. I've played Smash Bros religiously since the N64 days with my friend, and it's the only fighting game I really care about that isn't Power Stone or Marvel vs. Capcom. I bought a WiiU for this game, haven't regretted it. It is very much an iterative game, but stuffed with new modes and characters, that I don't really care because no other games like it exist. Well Sony tried, but I don't want to kill people with supers. I want to bump them out of the ring like a sumo wrestler, except with swords and lasers.
3. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
This is my 2nd biggest surprise of the year, another licensed game that like the Batman Arkham series is just a good game on its own merit. Batman is also worth bringing up because the game mechanically takes so much from it, but thankfully implements well. It even gets referenced to Assassin's Creed, except in so many ways does it execute better than that series ever has, and does "dynamism" better than Watch Dogs could ever dream to. The Nemesis System is the key component, or really a collection of systems and mechanics that creates a hierarchy of ever changing Orcs with random traits, who will change as you interact with them. Every mission in this game never goes as I plan, each one an emergent moment because the nemesis system will throw in something that forces me to adapt…and I love it so much that dying is actually fun just to see what changes.
Bastion was a game I enjoyed a fair bit, with amazing music, fantastic art, innovative storytelling, and merely decent gameplay. Transistor is similar in most of those ways, except the gameplay caught up. A weird hybrid of turn-based and real-time, with some of the most intriguing abilities and progression I've seen in a game. You get 4 active skills you can use at once, but on each you can augment that skill with 2 other skills, and they're all interchangeable. I can slash in 3 directions at once to charm people, summon dogs that will explode, and teleport past people stealing their life while leaving a lightning trail behind me. Also, talking sword and humming.
1. Divinity: Original Sin
My true surprise of this year, a game that wasn't really on my radar until a friend mentioned co-oping it. Little did I know I'd be getting a lot of things I loved about old CRPGs, with new bag of innovative tricks to back it up. Apart from the amazing elemental synergies for combat, the world is the main attraction. A place that feels far more alive, not through cosmetic production values, but because of the diverse ways you interact with it. Instead of more description, I'm gonna provide a sample of things I experienced:
- I looted a haystack to find only one needle.
- I talked to a wishing well, sold a talking oyster, and got cussed out by a chicken.
- I dug up a husband's grave, and the wife nearby noticed. Dug up another, and got incinerated
- I killed the mayor's adopted orc daughter while he was downstairs, left, and he didn't find out for 2 days.
- A bull read my fortune, and I killed a human quest giver only to get the same quest later from a deer.
- I stole underwear disguised as a giant moving rock inside a wooden house.
- I had to play rock paper scissors to convince a lady, whom I landed on top of in her bathtub… that it was because of an imp's teleporter pyramid from another dimension.
- I convinced a man to keep his charmed orc sex slave (it didn't work out).
- A tiny dog leapt to my defense during a quest involving wolves, and wrecked them.
- I got beaten to death for stealing an apple.
- I froze a large goblin mech, and teleported a pyromancer into a pool of lava for education.
- I stole all the art in a city, and sold everything back to the original owners.
- I lifted a sheep into the air, slammed it into the ground, and his sheep buddy got pissed.
- I crafted a wall of chairs to funnel enemies into a choke point, teleported a barrel of acid on top of them, set it on fire to kill half of them, and shot lighting into the blood of the dead to stun the leftover living.
11/10 something something GOTY
Some other notable games: Far Cry 4, Styx: Master of Shadows, The Banner Saga, Banished, Ziggurat, Cloudbuilt, Nidhogg, Towerfall Ascension, Shadowrun: Dragonfall, Endless Legend, Dark Souls 2 & Infamous: Second Son.
Basically lots of cool stuff came out in 2014, and again what are your favorites?